“I was 39, I said to myself: ‘I’ve had two kids, should I have another?’ Well no, I knew I wouldn’t want it anymore,” says Ronan Lerigoleur, a college professor who chose a vasectomy at the end of 2020. Its decision remains rare but is becoming less marginal among French men: vasectomy has been gaining ground in recent years in France, shows ae study published this Monday by Health Insurance and the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM).
The operation amounts to being sterilized, via ligation of the ducts which allow sperm to escape from the testicles. It is therefore a male contraceptive method considered definitive. Because if we can sometimes cancel its effects by another operation, we cannot be sure in advance.
1,940 vasectomies in 2010, for 30,288 in 2022
In France, the vasectomies have long been shunned. Authorized only since 2001, they have, for years, been carried out in tiny numbers. But the situation seems to be starting to change. “The number of vasectomies has increased each year since 2010, going from 1,940 vasectomies in 2010 to 30,288 in 2022, an increase by 15,” summarize the authors of the ANSM study, supervised by epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik.
Now, there are even more men than women choosing a form of sterilization. The authors of the study see this in part as a consequence of the Essure implant affair, commonly used as a method of female sterilization before being withdrawn from the market in the late 2010s due to adverse effects. This crossing of curves is also linked to the progression of vasectomies. This is difficult to explain, the authors recognizing that “sociological studies” would be necessary.
Less cumbersome practice and more varied profiles
“The reduction in the burden of the practice may have led men to resort more to vasectomy,” says demographer Mireille Le Guen, a specialist in contraception issues. Most vasectomies are now carried out during the day at the hospital, whereas a significant number of patients still had to spend the night there a few years ago, often under general anesthesia.
But Mireille Le Guen remains cautious about reading an embryonic trend. If vasectomies are on the rise, they start from so low that their frequency remains low: around 0.15% of the men concerned made this choice in 2022. “There is a possibility that we will move away from a marginal practice , but let’s keep in mind that this still concerns very few men”, notes the demographer, who nevertheless notes a “diversification of profiles” towards slightly more advantaged environments than before. It is therefore too early to judge whether vasectomy is less frightening due to its potentially irreversible nature – a four-month reflection period remains imposed on French people tempted by this operation – or due to unfounded fears surrounding its supposedly negative effects on activity. sexual.
Sharing the mental burden of contraception
It is also difficult to conclude that there is an effect of increasingly visible feminist discourse in favor of better sharing of the “mental burden” of contraception, the responsibility for which most often falls on women via, mainly, the taking of contraception. ‘a pill. This is, in any case, one of the considerations that motivated Ronan Lerigoleur. “My wife didn’t always tolerate the pill well,” he explains. “There is no photo: I had an operation and it was fixed. Otherwise, it was for life. »
In certain countries, particularly Anglo-Saxon ones, vasectomies are common, even if they tend to lose popularity. This is the case in the United States, Australia and South Korea, where more than 1 in 10 women rely on their partner’s vasectomy to avoid having children.